History of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center


Absmc-history Alta Bates Summit Medical Center began as five separate hospitals, each with their own unique story. Alta Bates Hospital. In 1904, a young registered nurse, Alta Alice Miner Bates, opened her parents’ home in Berkeley to a few of her patients. Area physicians were so impressed with her patient care that they urged her to build her own hospital. With $114 in cash, her father’s architectural design and credit from local merchants, she founded the eight-bed Alta Bates Sanitorium on Dwight Way in 1905. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake displaced thousands of its residents resulting in a population growth in East Bay cities like Berkeley and proved that it was time for Alta Bates to grow. This 12-bed facility at 2460 Webster Street opened in 1907 and featured two operating rooms and quarters for Alta Bates nursing students. Between 1910 and 1912 Alta Bates Hospital added two wings, raising the number of beds to nearly 40. The nursing school she had founded was also growing. And Ms. Bates had gained a reputation for providing a home-like atmosphere in which the patients knew they were important. In 1928, a new and expanded Alta Bates Hospital opened its doors. The new fireproof facility had 112 beds and the very latest in medical technology. Over the next 50 years, the hospital continued to grow to meet the needs of the community, increasing the bed capacity to over 300. Finally, in 1985, the 1928 building was replaced with a new three-story structure that is part of what is now known as the Alta Bates Campus. Herrick Hospital. Dr. Leroy Francis Herrick was motivated by the death of his wife to pursue his own career in medicine. After completing his studies, he opened a medical practice in Oakland. Realizing that Berkeley had no hospital, he converted a Victorian home known as the Hume House at Dwight and Milvia into the 20-bed Roosevelt Hospital in 1904. 20 years later, it was expanded into a 50-bed facility and renamed Berkeley General Hospital. Dr. Herrick died in 1932. And as the nation tried to cope with the Great Depression, the hospital struggled financially. Fortunately, his granddaughter’s husband, Alfred Maffly, convinced Dr. Herrick’s heirs to donate the hospital’s assets to a new not-for-profit charitable organization called the Herrick Foundation. The hospital was later renamed to Herrick Memorial Hospital. Over the next 15 years, the hospital was completely remodeled and had grown to 250 beds. By 1980, it had increased its size by 153 beds and doubled the size of its emergency department. Merritt Hospital. His name graces one of Oakland’s most beautiful landmarks. Dr. Samuel Merritt arrived in the Bay Area the day after San Francisco’s great fire in 1850. Amassing a fortune from shipping and real estate, he became active in Oakland’s civic development and eventually served as its mayor. Following his death in 1890, his estate bequeathed the then astronomical sum of $2 million for the most modern of hospital facilities possible for the people of Oakland. Merritt Hospital opened in 1909 with 36 beds and grew to 119 beds by 1927. The ’50s brought new technologies and all that came with evolving medicine. The ’60s added 150 new beds and a new school of nursing. Ultimately, in the 1970s, the bed capacity of the Merritt campus grew to 350. Peralta Hospital. In the early 1920s, five prominent local physicians, Drs. John L. Lohse, W. B. Palamountain, P.N. Jacobson, Hayward G. Thomas and Quinten L. Gilbert established a new private physician-owned hospital that combined modern architecture, stylish decor and the latest in medical technology. Opened in 1928, the hospital was named Peralta Hospital, after Don Luis Maria Peralta, whose 19th century rancho encompassed much of the East Bay. In the 1940s, a new two-story wing was added. Peralta Hospital continued to grow through the next 30 years, finally adding a 430,000 square feet outpatient services building in 1978. Providence Hospital. In the early 1900s, the Montreal-based Sisters of Providence had a history of opening new schools and hospitals throughout the northwest. In 1902, they responded to a request from the Archbishop of San Francisco and an Oakland priest to give their help in building a new hospital in Oakland. In 1904, their efforts were apparent when tiny Providence Hospital was opened to the public at its original site at 26th and Broadway. In 1926, a new Providence Hospital was built at Orchard Avenue and Summit Street, seven times the original building size. In 1956, the hospital expanded to 230 beds; and, finally, a new $22.5 million Providence Hospital was opened in 1979. These five hospitals have spent the last century serving their communities, even during difficult times like epidemics, earthquakes, fires and social unrest. In the 1980s, the healthcare landscape began to change, resulting in many hospitals across the country joining forces to ensure healthcare could continue in their communities. In 1982, Merritt Hospital and Peralta Hospital merged to form Merritt Peralta Medical Center. This was the first time in the East Bay that two independent hospitals had merged in order to better serve their community. They formed a not-for-profit corporation and the largest medical facility in the East Bay with 630 beds. In response to increasingly difficult financial pressures, Alta Bates and Herrick Hospitals merged in 1988 to form Alta Bates Herrick Hospital. In 1992, Providence Hospital joined Merritt Peralta Medical Center to become Summit Medical Center. Finally, in 1999, Alta Bates Herrick and Summit Medical Centers combined under Sutter Health to become what we know today as Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. In many ways, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center is the heart of this region. Our children are born here, and generations of families have turned to us for care. Improving the health of our community has been and will remain the medical center’s mission. And we look forward to caring for generations to come.

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